What’s the secret sauce to a successful hashtag campaign?

Example of a hashtag campaign feed embedded on the website

Do you use hashtags?

Most of us do – they are a great way to participate in a conversation on Twitter or get more exposure for your Instagram photos and videos. Sometimes hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter become so powerful that there are no other words needed in your post.

For brands, a hashtag campaign can bring great results, too. Before getting started with your campaign, it’s essential to conduct proper research on what others are doing and what makes their campaigns successful, set your goals, and design your campaign to support your KPIs.

Why brands start hashtag campaigns

So why do brands create hashtag campaigns in the first place?

Here are some of the key benefits of a hashtag campaign:

  1. Increase the reach of your content
  2. Raise awareness of your brand and its products or a charitable cause
  3. Grow the number of followers
  4. Drive traffic to your website
  5. Build a community of brand advocates
  6. Show social proof to increase conversions

Some of those key benefits should become your hashtag campaign’s goals and guide your strategy and content creation. And like in any other marketing activity, the goals will determine the metrics of success.

Are you, for example, measuring the increase in engagement? Or are you aiming to grow the number of followers and website visits?

How to create a hashtag campaign

An Instagram hashtag feed on a website
With Flockler, brands can embed Instagram hashtag feeds on websites and digital services

After deciding your targets and critical metrics, here is a four-step guide on how to create a hashtag campaign:

  1. Research your brand and competitors
  2. Create a memorable hashtag
  3. Publish hashtag content with advocates
  4. Measure the results of your hashtag campaign

1. Research your brand and competitors

Start by analysing your content and how customers talk about your products online today. Are there already mentions of your brand or products on social media channels? If there are, and the engagement is quite natural, consider amplifying that message with, for example, a branded Instagram hashtag campaign. User-generated content campaigns help you increase your reach - and highlight your most active and engaged customers.

If you are just getting started and there hasn’t been a clearly defined strategy on how to use hashtags, take a look at what your competitors and other similar companies are doing. You can always learn from the success and failures of others.

2. Create a memorable hashtag

Creating a memorable hashtag is key to the success of your hashtag campaign – especially if you are running a short-term hashtag competition.

The best hashtags resonate with your customers. Think about the research you may have carried out on social media channels but also consider other touchpoints and interactions with customers. Do you have a live chat on the website, or do your team members meet customers face-to-face? Are there catchy slogans and words customers use quite naturally?

A hashtag marketing campaign example

Make sure the hashtag is relatively short and something that others aren’t using already. You want to own the search results for the hashtag you'll use.

3. Publish hashtag content with advocates

No campaign will be a success story without advocates working with you. Your advocates can be your team members and employees sharing the marketing campaign hashtag on their personal profiles. Many hashtag campaigns collaborate with influencers – platforms like Traackr can help you identify the most influential social media users and reward them for sharing the content.

But most often, the real advocates are your customers. They might be fans of your products and ready to spread the message in niche communities. Or they might promote your products and services in local communities.

4. Measure the results of a hashtag campaign

Finally, measuring the results is as relevant as creating the campaign. If you want to convince your team members (and the boss!) that hashtag campaigns are worth it, you’ll need to show numbers to support the argument.

The metrics and results depend on your goals. Most of our clients use Flockler’s analytics tools to measure the number of people participating and their engagement level - the number of likes, comments, and retweets. When you embed hashtag feed on a website, you can also use Google Analytics and similar tools to analyse website metrics like time spent on site and conversions.

7 excellent hashtag campaign examples and ideas

To save some of your time searching for great hashtag campaigns examples, and to help you get started, I’ve curated some of our platform’s recent successes.

GoPro #GoProAwards

Instagram hashtag campaign on GoPro's website

Customers are the best advocates for your products. GoPro uses #GoProAwards to celebrate and highlight the most beautiful images and thrilling videos shared on social media channels by their customers.

By encouraging your customers to share content mentioning your branded Instagram hashtag, your content will reach new audiences and build far more organic engagement. The social proof embedded on your website increases sales, too.

Natural History Museum in London and LEGO #NHMLEGO 

A hashtag campaign by Natural History Museum in London and LEGO

LEGO is all about creativity, so naturally, their hashtag marketing campaigns collaborate with organisations that help spark innovative ideas.

Have you ever wondered how life could look like in distant parts of the universe? In London, the Natural History Museum organized the #NHMLEGO campaign asking schoolkids to use their imagination and build their own LEGO Life Form that could survive four different environments.

#NHMLEGO campaign is an excellent example of two brands working together and reaching a shared audience.

Metallica #HeroesOfTheDay

Images by hashtag #heroesoftheday on Metallica's website

Do you know anyone listening to Metallica who's a front line worker helping us all go through pandemic?

Metallica's All Within My Hands Foundation is organising fundraising events and donating grants to communities hit hard by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. The #HeroesOfTheDay hashtag campaign celebrates those in critical roles who are figting the pandemic and aims to increase the charity’s reach and awareness.

France.fr #JeRedécouvrelaFrance

Hashtag feeds on France.fr website displaying user-generated travel content

France.fr is a tourism marketing site that curates and shares stories around France’s best travel destinations. A vital part of the website is a hashtag feed of images and videos highlighting the country's beautiful scenery and tourist attractions. #JeRedécouvrelaFrance campaign is encouraging everyone to share their unforgettable moments with other travellers. The colourful and inspiring social media wall encourages visitors to stay on the site longer and helps many decide to book their next trip.

Most travel brands use UGC marketing campaigns to add social proof to their websites and other digital services. The benefits include the growth of reach and brand awareness, increased bookings, and also improved customer satisfaction.

Waterloo Catholic District School Board #STEAMDays

A hashtag feed embedded on a school website

Schools typically publish a lot of content on social media channels and through internal communication channels. There’s a good reason why: there are so many stakeholders involved in the process. Teachers and school staff, students and their parents, government, donors, alumni members (and more) - these are all groups that a marketing and comms team will try to reach with their content.

One of the benefits of using hashtags is that it helps distinct audiences discover the most relevant content on social media channels and beyond. Waterloo Catholic District School Board uses Flockler’s technology to store and categorise their content - differentiated by various hashtags – and the content can then be shown, filtered by hashtag and displayed on specific pages of the website. This helps to make the website content more a lot more relevant to each audience without any additional work.

For example, during the pandemic when schools have been forced to close, WCDSB used the #STEAMDays hashtag campaign to build an online learning experience.

United Nations Foundation #EqualEverywhere

A hashtag feed on a website

Nonprofits use social media for fundraising – together with traditional channels, social media channels have become one of the best ways for charties to reach new audience and build awareness for the good cause.

The #EqualEverywhere campaign by United Nations Foundation fights for equality for all girls and all women, wherever they are. 

Opus Art Supplies #opusartweek

Opus Art Supplies hashtag campaign entries

Opus Art Supplies - a webshop providing the visual arts community with fine art materials, digital printing, picture frames, and more - organised a weekly competition asking their community to explore Canada through art. Each week, they ask participants to create something under themes like Canadian faces, wildlife, and landscapes. As a result, Opus has built a virtual art tour and galleries of images - created by the creative community and mentioning their brand.

In addition to social media, the participants can upload their entry directly on the website too. Opus can then share those images on their social media channels.

Asking your customers to describe and share their experiences with your products and services is the most powerful hashtag campaign concept. Especially if the experience includes friends and family members, you’ll have a chance to create a viral hit.

With Flockler, you can gather and display social media feeds from your favourite channels. See the full list of supported content types and sources

Flockler helps marketers like you to create social media feeds and display user-generated content on any digital service. Keep your audience engaged and drive sales.

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